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Facing Personal Challenges, Even Hearing Aids

October 22, 2014

I see people in distress all the time in mediation.

I see the financial turmoil of course, but also I see the emotional turmoil that arises due to the adversities which have caused, or resulted from, disputants’ conflicts with one another.

Such emotional turmoil includes stress, sometimes embarrassment, anger, remorse, sorrow, irritability, insecurity, fragility, vulnerability, feelings of loss of self worth or loss of control, despair, even depression.

I have always felt that my approach to others’ challenges is empathic, and people have told me that it is.

In many cases, I have commiserated, I have reflected, I have heard and understood. I have “felt their pain” (in a way) and they have seen it and appreciated it … or so I have been informed.

I have tried “to walk in their shoes” and to be reaffirming of each such person’s sense of self and of worth.

I think this has helped people to face and to deal with their difficulties, to approach the resolution of their disputes, to let go of the past, and ultimately to move on.

This week, on a very personal level, I too felt a welling up of such emotions as I have listed above, primarily as a result of coming to terms with a long time partial hearing loss and my recent acceptance that I needed hearing aids, which I have now purchased and wear.

(Parenthetically, even though I am still getting used to them, let me tell you: they are amazing, terrific, very sophisticated, and incredibly helpful, although very expensive….  And they have taken a personal emotional toll on me during this week.)

Thus, I tell you about my new hearing aids in part to face my own challenges, to attempt to get over the self consciousness, and mostly to reaffirm my own feelings of self worth, self confidence, competence, professional ability and the agility to hear, listen, understand and help people.

Also, I write this to say that, having internalized my own feelings and having sorted them out, I feel as if I have been allowed a new perspective which will enable me to relate better, more deeply, even more genuinely and sincerely, and on a much more personal level, with the feelings of those in distress who attend mediation.

For I believe that I do, and I should, bring my personal experiences to bear on the disputes I mediate and that this makes me better at what I do.

Thus I think this: when we can truly and sincerely show that we can relate to the difficulties that parties in conflict face, then we can better help them feel that they are not powerless, that they can face their challenges, that they can overcome their inertia, and that they can solve some or all of their problems … or at least settle some or all of their disputes with others.


David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes. For further information, please go to .

One Comment
  1. Welcome to the club! About 2 years ago, I had a very substantial hearing loss in my left ear. Unfortunately, the hearing is distorted and therefore a hearing aid will only increase the volume of the distorted sound. In any event, I must agree that the more we survive challenges of our own and thrive, the more empathic we become. I agree with Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, that some things in life just cannot be learned. We can learn to be empathic. However, the amount we can learn is limited, unless and until we face our own challenges.

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